Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

In Arkady Renko, Gorky Park presents a man of integrity who searches for the truth. Everything in the Soviet system should tell him to compromise, to mouth Communist Party pieties, to avoid those areas of investigation that may embarrass officials or complicate relations with powerful Americans such as Osborne. Arkady could live a comfortable life, behaving like a docile bureaucrat and being rewarded with high office and various luxuries, including trips abroad. Yet, in a curious way, he is patriotic: He insists on solving the crime.

The plot of the mystery story serves the author well by emphasizing the detective’s intelligence and independence. He must rely on his own wits, and he cannot afford to be flattered by his superiors. He represents, therefore, the strongest possible alternative to the collectivist police state, where individuality is devalued, indeed crushed. By definition, the detective is a nonconformist and is likely to suffer for his singularity. In order to do his job, Arkady must risk everything—his job, his home, and his family. The Soviet system is set up, in other words, precisely so that he cannot do his job.

Yet the author also shows that Arkady can find other detectives and laboratory technicians within the system who are as curious as he is and who want to determine the truth. This is why Arkady is so angry when Pasha is killed. It is not merely that he has lost a friend and colleague; it is that the very...

(The entire section is 492 words.)

Gorky Park Social Concerns / Themes

Gorky Park is such an exciting and entertaining story that on a first reading one is seldom conscious of anything other than the...

(The entire section is 411 words.)